Flourishing Churches and CommunitiesWhat distinct features does Pentecostalism bring to our discussions about stewardship and whole-life discipleship?

In Flourishing Churches and Communities, one of three tradition-specific primers on faith, work, and economics, Dr. Charlie Self provides a response, exploring how Pentecostal considerations influence our approach to such matters.

In the introduction, Self offers a basic portrait of Pentecostalism and “Spirit-filled” Christianity that is easy to connect with some of the key drivers of stewardship — vocation, virtue, responsibility, obedience, discernment, decision-making, etc.:

Spirit-filled Christianity touches all of life. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit includes active participation in the economy, work as worship, and “providential increases” (John Wesley) in the influence of the kingdom of God…

…The heart of Pentecostal identity is the present reality of the work of the Holy Spirit, who empowers all believers for gospel service. This includes the expectation of continual encounters with God that enrich calling and effectiveness and release believers to follow in the delivering, healing, and reconciling work of Jesus Christ. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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Malaysian court rules use of ‘Allah’ exclusive to Muslims
Siva Sithraputhran, Reuters

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word “Allah” to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

Southern Baptists fight contraception regulation
Tony Gonzalez, The Tennessean

Three non-profit religious groups are suing the federal government over mandate in health law.

Four Charts on How Economic Freedom Makes Your Life Better
Ryan Olson, The Foundry

Political gridlock, the government shutdown, and Obamacare are making Americans gloomy. But, largely thanks to economic freedom and the free-market system, things aren’t so bad after all.

Faith, Culture & Religious Freedom in 21st Century America
ERLC

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Manhattan Declaration bring you a conversation about the future of religious freedom in America featuring a diverse group of expert voices.

“Wishful thinking will not fix our nation’s spending and debt problem,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary. “The longer we procrastinate, the harder it will be for us to actually do it.”

In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, a collection of wise stories and sayings from the first Christian monks, the following is attributed to one Abba Zeno: “Never lay a foundation on which you might sometime build yourself a cell.” This saying has at least two possible applications: 1) Do not start something you do not intend to see through. 2) Do not put off for tomorrow the asceticism you can do today. Unfortunately, both of these lessons are lost on our federal government when it comes to financial responsibility, and it is our children who will pay for the sins of their fathers.

The full text of his essay is here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

P.J. O'Rourke

P.J. O’Rourke

Best-selling author and leading political satirist P.J. O’Rourke will be featured at the Acton Institute’s 23rd Annual Dinner on Oct. 24 as the keynote speaker. Tickets for this event are going fast as there is just over one week remaining until this event. You do not want to miss out on this evening filled with humor, wit and engaging dialogue in what promises to be an evening remembered for a long time. Known as a hard-bitten, cigar-smoking conservative, O’Rourke bashes all political persuasions. “Money and power to government,” says O’Rourke, “is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

With more than 1 million words of trenchant journalism under his byline and more citations in The Penguin Dictionary of Humorous Quotations than any living writer, P. J. O’Rourke has established himself as America’s premier political satirist. Both TIME and the Wall Street Journal have labeled O’Rourke as “the funniest writer in America.” Covering current events, O’Rourke combines the skill and discipline of an investigative reporter with a comedian’s sense of the absurd and the stupid. O’Rourke’s best-selling books include Parliament of Whores, Give War a Chance, Eat the Rich, The CEO of the Sofa, Peace Kills and On the Wealth of Nations.

The event will be taking place from at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich. Previous keynote speakers have included Eric Metaxas and John O’Sullivan. Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of Acton, will also be giving special remarks during the evening.

Individual tickets are $150 and table sponsorships are also available for $3,000 and $5,000. Be sure to register now by visiting www.acton.org/dinner. For more information, please contact Teresa Bailey at tbailey@acton.org or call 616.454.3080. We hope to see you there!

SpiritualDangerGreerPeterPeter Greer has spent his life doing good, from serving refugees in the Congo to leading HOPE International, a Christian-based network of microfinance institutions operating in 16 countries around the world. Yet as he argues in his latest book, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, “service and charity have a dark side.”

As a study from Fuller Seminary concluded, only one out of three biblical leaders finished well, despite the good they accomplished during their lifetimes. How can Christians avoid the spiritual dangers that persist in pursuing the good of our neighbors?

Greer’s book offers plenty of answers, and in an interview with On Call in Culture, he was kind enough to offer a glimpse.

As a young man, you noticed a certain brokenness in the aid industry—manipulation, phoniness, failure to uphold the dignity the human person. Yet you began to recognize these same traits within your own heart. Why does the position of the heart matter? Why isn’t it good enough to get busy?

In 2002, a volcano erupted in Congo. I went to help. Up high on a platform, I handed out blankets to refugees. And a photographer was snapping photos. But I wasn’t thinking about the refugees. My thought was: I can’t wait until people back home see these photos of me.

That moment helped me see how it’s possible to appear to be serving God but actually be making our service all about us. Unless we rediscover why we serve, our service can become a way to promote our image, heightening vanity and pride. (more…)

Just like this poor couple trying to buy a bed, we are finding out that Obamacare is a gigantic debacle, but “otherwise perfectly all right.” It’s health care, done by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Look at the facts:

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
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The morticians wanted the monks shut down—or even thrown in jail—for the crime the Benedictines were committing.

Casket-making MonksUntil 2005, the monks of St. Joseph Abbey in St. Benedict, Louisiana had relied on harvesting timber for income. But when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their pine forest they had to find new sources of revenue to fund the 124-year-old abbey. For over 100 years, the monks had been making simple, handcrafted, monastic caskets so they decided to try to sell them to the public.

According to the Wall Street Journal, after a local Catholic newspaper publicized the effort in 2007, local funeral directors got the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors—of which eight of the nine members are funeral industry professionals—to serve the abbey with a cease-and-desist order. Louisiana law makes it a crime for anyone but a licensed parlor to sell “funeral merchandise.” Violating the statute could land the monks in jail for up to 180 days.

Since the sole purpose of the “casket cartel” law is to protect the economic interest of the funeral industry, the Institute for Justice filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the monastery claiming the legislation restricts “the right to earn an honest living just to enrich government-licensed funeral directors.”
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